To start, I know about horsetrips.com and plan to use it as a base of information.
But, you all are a wealth of knowledge and I would really appreciate do's and don'ts.
Trip will be from NC to So. CA (wasn't kidding about the cross country part)
Trip will be in early Aug (cannot change this)
Plan to drive at night - 5-6pm to 12-1am to keep everyone cool as possible and drivers awake, other option of 3am-10am doesn't sit well with us based off circadian rhythm.
Second driver in second vehicle will caravan.
Here's the basics of the trip:
1. Dodge diesel 3500, ex. maint, new tires, 50K
2. 4 horse head to head, tires less than a year old, recently inspected by my trailer guy, ex condition.
(I'm familar with the rig - been driving it multiple times a month for over a year)
3. Two horses.
4. Do not have box stall dividers, but can take out center partitions, leaving chest bars and make roomier stalls.
5. Horses are good travellers.
6. Two dogs. One barks if left alone in a hotel room. One is a saint. Both travel well, and sleep in car well.
7. Two cats. Current plan is to put cats in a large dog crate with litter box, tranq and bother them as little as possible. Good boys, but not in love with travel. Will cry, but not yowl.
What route would you take?
Where would you stay/NOT stay?
Well...I've hauled from VA to Wyoming and back and put about 15,000 loaded miles on my trailer in two years. I can make a few suggestions.
Try not to haul more than 15 hours a day. Otherwise you will just be exhausted in a day or two unless you have a back up driver. I'd suggest 12 hours if you are hauling alone at most.
Audiobooks are good companions for long drives. Satellite radio is priceless.
Find good horse motels and ASK exactly what the accommodations are for the horses...ie stalls, pens, bedding, etc... I've been led to a pen in a cattle barn once where my stallion had to be put...it was not clean and was partly on a concrete floor. I was not happy but we had no where else for him to go and it was too late to roll onward and find another place.
Ask for references also for overnight stops. I can suggest several places. One is near Colombus OH right off of I70, and the other in the corner of Iowa up near Minnesota and S. Dakota...a fantastic little bed and breakfast. Aunt Reba's it was called....lovely lady and hostess and nice facilities for the horses.
I'd not be too surprised if the Cother's wouldn't be very helpful too along the way once you decide your route. I'd probably take the northern route across in midsummer versus the southern route through Texas and the desert states...but if you are going to S. California...the southern route probably makes more sense. I drove that route many many years ago in a car but could not tell you good places to stay. I've not done it with horses.
Hang buckets in the stalls with water..maybe half full. It will let the horses wet their lips and mouths and drink if so inclined. I think it's best to keep moving as much as you can for a full days drive and get them out at night versus leave them loaded and sleep for an hour or two. They need to rest also and will do better in a stall or paddock somewhere. Be sure to booster for flu/rhino before you leave.
Whatever Mapquest says for hours from point to point...add time to it for hauling horses. IE...if it says 12 hours...figure 15 hours. I have never made the kind of time they say you can make on those map programs pulling a trailer...I probably average 50 mph with stops at best.
Take Banamine and some meds with you. You never know when you can get a vet or not and may have to medicate yourself if you get a colicky horse.
These are good sites also for traveling with horses:
This advice is NOT based on traveling with horses but IS based on two years of living apart from my husband & traveling about 4-1/2 hours each way on weekends to see him.
I WOULD travel from 3 AM to 10 AM because that is when the big trucks stop & sleep. I am sure many truckers are very nice but, in my personal experience, there are those that will harass a woman traveling alone & being in a pickup truck seems to incite them more. I used to leave Newark DE about 2 AM, pull into my parents' house in Cortland NY about 6:30 AM, leave my daughter with my mother (daughter was ages 1 -3 during these years), get ready for work, drive about 45 min. - 1 hour to Syracuse University & work all day. Even if you don't get harrassed by truckers, I just never thought it was fun to travel when many, many semis were on the road - they go slower than me uphill so I pass, then faster than me downhill so they pass me ... I just didn't enjoy it.
Once your route is planned look up the Vet schools along the way in case of emergencies...also the sheriff of the local county you are in at the time would be an invaluable asset with suggestions for emergency places to stay (farms) and vets. They would not hesitate to supply you with useful help.
Get http://www.usrider.org/safety.html. Get their insurance and check out their suggestions.Also use the forms they supply that include emergency contact info. Use a multi-page folder with all your valuable horse info...coggins, health certificate and a copy of your registration papers and a few photos of your horses from all sides (in addition to the Coggins..maybe with you in the photo too. . Also add the contact name of a person authorized to make decisions about your horse in the event you are incapacitated and your horses need treatment...this is a notarized form I believe. Add to it contacts on both end of your journey.
FIRE-extinguisher, (one that works) ,roll on ramp for changing tire and the CORRECT sized lug wrench.
Horse meds and diaper bandages, a headlamp.
5 gallon bottles of water from home so they will drink when you stop over. Also do not feed grain the day before travel and just lots of hay at the stops...Give electrolytes several days before and a bran mash to keep things moving the night before the trip...continue with both each evening while traveling.
I left my horse's head untied at the advise of my vet so he could get his head down....keeps the lungs clearer. They will stand/brace themselves safely. I also did not wrap the legs, again at the advise of the vet because the heat (especially) in August would be too much. I chose not to use shavings because its been proven the the blowing dust from them causes problems...especially on long journeys. The rubber mats provide sufficient support.
Get their vaccinations long in advance of the trip and I would include the strangles...you never know about the horse that stayed in the stall before on your nightly stops. I always had good fortune and met nice helpful people...I traveled entirely alone with my horse and cat...over 7000 mi in 4 mo.
It will be a memorable adventure. Not bad at all with the right preparations
Last edited by birdsong; May. 9, 2009 at 12:18 AM.
"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"
I took my horse from NC to CA too. It was during July and I chose to take I-40 the entire way. I followed much of the advice already suggested: no wraps, half full water, frequent stops, emergency meds (banamine!), etc. I mostly had great experiences. I traveled during the day for about 10 to 12 hours max each day and had overnights planned out (in TN, OK, TX, AZ). I brought an entire book of information with me: vets and hospitals, my overnight boarding locations, info, and contacts, hotels; and I also noted fairgrounds just in case some of the overnight boarding situations did not work out. The only time I traveled at night was through the Mohave - which was planned this way due to the heat - and I was close enough to my destination to make this work. For overnight boarding, www.horsemotel.com and www.horseandmuletrails.com were great!
Almost all of the farms I overnighted my horse at were very lovely – exceeded expectations by far (and they all came from the above sites). Except… I had a really hard time finding something appropriate in/around Amarillo TX - I chose the best of what I could find at the time and it was regretfully awful (cowbarn...). Just FYI if you take I-40...might want to pass by Amarillo.
All in all, it took us five days. Horse was pretty comfortable temperature-wise despite it being July and we had absolutely no problems on the road with drivers.
I too was traveling with cats and I must say they got quite used to the driving and loved to check out the hotel rooms! We did not tranq them. Be sure to read the reviews of the overnight boarding locations on horsemotel.com - I found this very helpful/insightful. Everyone was friendly and helpful and I made sure to be in contact with them during the trip so that they knew my exact arrival time. Most of them wanted me to arrive before nightfall for obvious reasons, so you may encounter difficulties with your plan - let them know when you plan to arrive beforehand. I spent many weeks planning and researching this trip. It is an exhausting ordeal so try to plan in some down time when you arrive at your destination. I do recommend I-40…it is flat the whole way (up to CA anyway) and is very direct. Best of luck to you, it is quite an adventure!
SFO to LEX here, moved over three years, I know I'm crazy . . .
I've been across on I80, I40, and I40 dropping down to I20. Never with livestock, just the car or a Penske + car trailer. When I came across alone in my car on I40 I never had any problems. I got up at daybreak and drove for about 12 hours, started to look for a place while it was still quite light out. I remember getting to the outskirts of large cities like OK city, and trying to plan it so I didn't get in their rush hour traffic, which worked out fine.
We did roughly the same thing when we came across with the Penske, but that was later in the year so we were tracking a big snowstorm across the panhandle and dropping South to I10 and then I20, so we hit Phoenix at dinnertime and (the next day?) went through DallasFTWorth before we stopped for the night. I80 was our most direct route but winter comes early and stays late so I only used it once, again with a Penske + car trailer; DH went back and brought the stock trailer and more junk alone.
Depending on whether the truckers are keeping day hours or not, you may find the rest stops and truck stops mighty crowded - just be prepared for the on and off ramps to have trucks parked sleeping, and not a whole lot of maneuvering room at the fuel stops.
When we were in the Penske we were just another big fish getting passed by all the little fish. I used to keep track of the other Penskes going the other way, and of course all the horseshow rigs. When we came via I80 in June we were getting passed up by all the Nascar people coming back from Sears Point, which I thought was neat.
Good luck, wishing you a safe and easy journey!
Good luck! The longest we've done is Denver to Dallas. We did find a place in Amarillo
right off I-40 with a Luv's truck stop and Subway on the other side of the intersection.
It's called Happy Tracks Horse Motel. Not fancy, was spotless and horses settled right in.
They could have had a paddock to wander into but an ice storm had come through and
didn't want them slipping...walking was a challenge for the humans. They had a "bunk" house with several rooms with their baths. It wasn't fancy, furniture was vintage, but it was spotless, and had TV, coffemaker, etc. It was nice to be just a few hundred feet
from the barn.
We were traveling with our border collie who was a great traveler but
not to be left in a room by herself. The cats had made the trip earlier along with the dog
and we put them in large dog crates with litter boxes, etc. They rode in the back of
the pickup which has a shell on it, and since it was winter, we had both slider windows
open to let warm air back there.
We had made one stop partway between Denver and Amarillo where they got to mosy around a round pen, drink up a storm and stretch their legs. We were going to do that
between Amarillo and Dallas but couldn't get connected with the facility so just kept
trucking. We were putting the small flatback buckets of water in for them. We were armed
with banamine, etc. Used paper shavings for the trip which is what I used in Colorado.
Basque tends to poo and pee up a storm in the trailer and things would get too slippery
I hauled cross country too (MA to SoCal). Had a blog about it too- see if I can dredge up some pages. Then a year later my sister moved out with her horse.
~Look up those previously mention websites for horse stop-overs. We had some problems so while I had it all planned out we ended up hitting only ONE of the FIVE planned overnights. Some are flexible to change while other places are not.
~ I hauled last week of July into beginning of August. I had a target of driving 500-750 (max miles) per day. In reality I undershot one day and made up on the next but then had a longer than usual stop over for the following day.
~Pre-check for vehicle and trailer. I had the truck in for a complete look over and all the fluids change. I did have a mechanical issue nontheless but did purchase a roadside assistance plan (USRider). Trailer also got complete 'vetting' and service. Truck chevy 3500 diesel, goose trailer 4/5horse w/ full tack room (which served as nice living quarters!). The trailer was a fun 32' in length.
~Equine Prep included: two sets of real fleece halter fuzzies. 2 sets of pillow wraps per horse. A light cooler. Spare leather halter. spare trailer ties. enough grain prepped for 10 days each horse. enough hay for 10 days each horse. extra shavings. about 90gal of water. kool-aid mix and gatoraide. Salt. Molasses. applesause cups. Bute. Banamine. horsey first aid kit. 2 rubbermaid totes with secure lids for manure. 2 pitch forks. broom. 2 water buckets each horse.
~Other essentials included: human first-aid kit. battery operated fan. trailer/auto/truck emergency kit. road atlas. extra double ended snaps. extra trailer pins for the dividers and bars. battery powered screw driver and a little tool kit including a hammer (yes I ended up using this!) I also had 2 dogs, a cat, and a rabbit and each had their own spacious crate and food for them.
~We wrapped the horses for most of the way. But my sister is way too good at wrapping and took the time to rewrap at almost every break. We switched out halter fleeces and wraps during the trip to keep them fresh and comfortable. I did start with bell boots but took them off almost right away. I'm glad I did the wraps as evidence of tearing so I know they weren't always perfect angels back there :P
~I did not leave water hanging on the road. I pretty much stopped at every 250-300 miles for a break (usually about 30 minutes) at this point we hung buckets up for drinking. We *did* use some flavored water trick to get one horse drinking on the first. I kept diligent watch over water intake- and all were fine the rest of the trip. Also did a little poop scooping and replenish hay net during stops. Of course overnighters were plenty of hay and full water buckets. I grained lightly with probios added.
Vaccinations: get all vaccs (minimum of coggins and rabies) and a health certificate for each horse. Should be about $25 from your vet. AZ and CA WILL take a copy of this cert at the agriculture stations on the highway.
Make sure you drivers license and vehicle(s) registration is current (ahhh yeah let's not go there on why I bring this up!).
TOLLS: ughhhh. you can try to avoid them but those route tend to suck. I think we spent about $60 on tolls. You'll have a different route but plan on them anyway! Change and dollar bills ready to dole out!
Fuel: be conservative on estimating costs. give yourself at least a 25% margin (traffic, detours, mechanical issues)
Make sure you have a reasonably health snack and beverage collection for the road. Skip the endless cups of coffee and soda (caffeine)- drink water. Stay hydrated. Lots of refined sugar or sodium will screw up energy levels.
You cannot always use the 'truck' diesel pumps at the stations. This was a PIA for us on a couple of occasions in the midwest because the 'car' pumps were not always easy to pull into with a huge friggin trailer. This required excellent manuvering skills. Just be wary before pulling into stations and don't let your fuel level go too low incase you have to 'skip' the station.
You can 'overnight' it at walmart parking lots Some even have water stations! And of course the 24hr walmart can seem like an oasis at 1AM in the morning :P when you've missed your overnight stay location.
Get a good trailer lock. Spare set of keys too.
I loved my XM Radio. Also loved my CD collection.
Don't drag the trip on either (my sister's trip went on 10 days vs. our 6- her horse lost about 300lbs from stress) Alas she had little control over the duration due to her travelling buddies.
We took Rt 40 through the Mohave. go at night.
OMG: and I'm still thinking up more things too, but I'm tired and must go to bed. But... PM me if you want, seriously I will be more than happy to chat.
All great suggestions here. I hauled 3 horses from WA state down to CA across the south to SC and up to NY a couple of years ago. I used horsemotel and several other sites to locate places to stay. I traveled during the winter - so heat was less of a factor for me, although it still got hot down south!
One of the things I tried to do when we stopped at night was to get my horses out in a small paddock or round pen vs. a stall. I wanted them to be able to move about as much as possible after standing on the trailer all day. A couple of places let me leave them in the arena over night. And of course I didn't have that luxury at a couple of spots and had to stall them.
And I second Super SBT about not fitting in at the 'regular' pumps with a bigger rig. We have a LQ and a 3500 diesel truck and there was no way we could stop at many normal stations. We'd look for truck stops that offer so much more room. But if you're traveling the freeway, this was easy to do.
I always tried to limit my travel day to about 10 hours. Of course that had to be flexible depending on where the next horsemotel was. Shortest distance we traveled was 5 hours and longest was 14.
I did not use shipping wraps on my horses.
I did not place water buckets in the trailer, but offered water every time we stopped which was every 2-3 hours. They were accustomed to this schedule.
I also offered a big wet beet pulp slurry at the end of each day.
I did not tie the pony allowing him to get his head down. However the 2 horses have mangers so there situation is different.
We traveled for 30 days and the horses did great. We stayed in some wonderful places and met some very nice people.
If you go Arizona as you cross the border make sure you pull into the "All Livestock must stop." They have been known to chase you down. If the Arizona Ag people are there at the weigh station they will tell you to pull over and show them your papers. You will need a health cetificate (a seperate piece of paper than the coggins) that is no more than 10 days old. If they aren't there the weigh station folks will tell you to continue on.
Don't worry about the NM crossing they don't expect you to pull off and show papers. However if the Ag inspector happens to pull you over (NOT likely) they too will want your health certificate - it can be 30 days old and proof of ownership. Usually in the west it is a brand inspection but if you are coming from the east they will understand that you don't have this but will want some other proof.
Have a great trip! It is quite empowering feeling when you are done. You will feel like you can do anything.
The first step, as noted, is to ensure the condition of truck and trailer. Back up your maintenance with an appropriate road service plan. We've got USRider at this time; have not had opportunity to use it (and hopefully won't ).
We had AAA for years and it didn't work the one time we really needed it.
Carry human/equine medications, etc. as recommended.
We load in the a.m. and ensure a full hay bag for each horse. We use a Featherlight slant load with the standard dividers. We don't unload during the day (even though we have very easy loaders). We've offered water in the past but never had any takers during the day, so we don't do it anymore. We don't use leg wraps. We do put down a thin layer of shavings (not sawdust) over the rubber mats. When we stop for the evening we try and get outdoor paddocks; gives the horses a chance to "streatch" for the night.
We shoot for a maximum 12 hour day but often do more on the first day, when everybody is fresh. We stop to swap drivers every 2-2.5 hrs., with the stop taking 10-15 min. We like to use standard rest areas, but will use a off-on ramp if nothing else is available. We've never been approached by the police doing this.
I would not travel more than three days in a row without a full day's stop. Such may not be necessary, but it will make me feel better (and I get a rest, too).
There are a number of "horse motel" sites and sources. We try and plan out our run, make reservations, and use the cell phone as required to keep the motel informed of our ETA.
We have a "weekender" LQ in the trailer (primitive, but workable). As long as we have an electric hookup we are "in business." Water is a nice to have (we've got a 50 gal. tank). We don't have a black water tank (not required with the Incinolet). We do carry a generator so we can "boondock" if required.
Many places allow "primitive camping" with you sleeping in the trailer and using toilet/shower facilities in the barn. This can be a very significant cost savings. Truck stops also often allow overnight parking if you're a fuel customer. The trouble with truck stops is no horse facilities. Although a friend of mine went from Lexington, VA to So. Cal. and found a couple of smaller truck stops that allowed him to set up a small, temporary corral. That was serrendipidy, however.
We carry temporary fencing material and solar charger, but have not had to use it yet.
Long horse hauls are one activity where the 5P rule is critical (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance).
1. Get thee two books: the overnight stabling directory and one that's available at truck stops (can't remember what its called) that lists whats at every exit on every interstate (really, really helpful)
2. Don't wrap, but if you're worried about shoes bell boots are fine
3. If you can get a water tank to put in your trailer (I have one of those corner ones that holds 25 gallons)- it is really, really handy
4. Put your coggins, health certs, brand inspections and a copy of your horses papers in those clear sheet protector things- then stick it all in a binder. Neat, organized, easy to grab at a moments notice.
5. When I did it, I bought a dog tag for each horse's halter and had horses name, my name, cell # and address on it
6. I would try to cover a minimum of 12 to a max of 15 hours per day, stop every few hours or so for at least 20 minutes to water the horses and let them rest from balancing
7. the week before you go, I would try to get as much water into them as possible- soak hay, grain, etc.
I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus
a friend of mine went from Lexington, VA to So. Cal. and found a couple of smaller truck stops that allowed him to set up a small, temporary corral.
When we traveled thru CA, we stopped overnight at a truck stop along the interstate that had camping facilities and horse corrals. It was very rural and rustic. 5 or 6 truck stops at the exit and a couple of fast food joints. That's it for as far as the eye could see. At night the sky was bright with the lights from all the truck stops. And there were acres and acres of ag fields behind the corrals. Coyotes howled all night long. I'm not sure if the horses got any rest that night, but I know I didn't. Everytime I looked out the window during the night, the boys had their heads over the fence and were staring off into the distance. We were only 2 or 3 days into our trip this was our first big trip) and I was so nervous....got over that fast
This may be a little too gruesome for you, so feel free to take it or leave it.
I have shipped horses through the back of beyond (lots of that in the wild west). In some places you are a long, long way from a veterinarian and the sheriff may take quite a while to get to you. In the highly unlikely event you were to have a really bad accident - rollover off the road, T-boned by a semi, etc - you might wish you had a way to euthanize your severely injured horse/s on the scene instead of waiting what might be a long time for help to arrive. Your vet could help you prepare for this if you want to pursue it.
Having said that, I must tell you that I have never had an accident of any kind on the road (knock on wood). I'm sure your trip will be equally uneventful.
We came out form Ca to IL in 06, we took I 40 and I 44... one of them has alot of tolls through Oklahoma City though, and you get charged for the trailer.
We are about to make the trip back... but this time we are swinging down to San Antonio to pick up a second horse.
Once we hit San Antonio, we are taking the 10 all the way back to CA.
We used horsemotels.com to find places to stay.
I carry two spare tires for the trailer, a jack and a star for the lugnuts.
Extra halters leads etc, and as much of a first aid kit as I can get.
We are caravaning this trip out, last time it was just the truck and trailer. So the dog and cats will travel in our van. Cats will get crate with litter box etc, dog will be allowed free roam of it.
I carry a water tank for the horses, and use electrolytes and pro bios for them... The one horse, mine, he is a spaz and won't drink on the trailer, not sure if the new horse is the same way. So I plan on them getting soaked hay to help with water intake.
I choose to stop places and rest them if I can.
I carry a longline and whip just in case.
I plan on using shipping boots and fleeced halters and headbumpers. I would like to get tail wraps for both as well.
I carry the papers needed in a folder for each horse.
I like the dog tag idea, and have one on my horse's halter, though his new halter has a name plate with his name. I need to get one for the new horse.
I use a thick layer of shavings for my horse. One trick I was told of, was to put ice in the shavings to help with the heat, sawdust is how they used to perserve ice in ice houses, before refridgeration came about.
Last trip was ran in Dec, so we didn't worry about to hot, this trip will be watching, but our trailer is a 2 horse stock type, so really open.
Don't forget that you will likely be stopping between where you stop over, for bathrooms, food etc, lol we forgot to figure that in and fell short of our mark... had to call and cancel at one horse motel, and scramble to find another.
I know a lot of people prefer not to use wraps but I would like to point out that using leg wrap *is* a good idea but only if you are adept at wrapping and are willing to take the time to rewrap them as necessary. Wrapping is not so much for leg 'support' but rather leg protection. If your wrapping job often ends in 'loose' wraps hanging around their ankles or worse, you are not wrapping properly.
Can you ship 'nekkid'? absolutely.
Shipping boots are very nice and convenient BUT they must be of excellent quality and fit your horse or they can be a nightmare.
If you are not using shipping boots, then use pillows (all cotton, not synthetics) w/ standing wraps. Fresh wraps are a must as well, they will sweat, poop, and pee on the pillows. Keep them unwrapped and naked during overnight stays.
As to the bellboots, just make sure they also fit well and watch for rubbing.
Picking hooves is a must each day, but that goes without saying.
If at ALL possible, bring some hay from home for the transition in CA, if you have one of those picky/fussy eaters. Hay is different out here. Timothy here is not the same as 'timothy' grown on the East Coast. I don't know what it is in NC though...
Even if you know how to wrap properly....anything can happen during the trip to cause the wraps to come loose/velcro undone/bandage pins undone etc...
Just safer not to wrap legs. I shipped my guy from KY to NJ with bell boots only.
Well my opinion happens to be in strong disagreement. Not saying that in a rare incident that wraps couldn't come undone however I'd rather protect for the more likely occurance of a nick or two from a hoof.
Wraps in shipping are on in much less duration that an overnight stalled horse.